Category Archives: British Brides

That 70’s Show – A Retro Flower-Child Bridal Shoot

The 1970’s are well and truly BACK. I don’t know about you but I’m seeing the styling of this decade everywhere at the moment – from the rails of the high street to the lookbooks of the high end. Even kitsch 70’s décor is back in vogue (apparently…not sure about the whole avocado bathroom thing making a comeback …)

So needless to say, I didn’t expect it to be long until someone brought this iconic styling into a bridal shoot. Photographer Catherine of Lily & Frank Photography and florist Steph from Fairy Nuff Flowers worked together to bring this concept together.

They set out their goals from the outset as they were keen to make this shoot stand out from the crowd. They wanted the flowers to take centre stage to the styling, to echo the ‘flower-child’ movement of the 70’s I’d suppose, so they make a conscious decision not to use any jewellery or hair accessories on the models. They were also very keen to make it a retro style, rather than the oh-s0-popular vintage styling of the moment – therefore bold pops of colour and strong statement pieces moved to the forefront. Finally, an obvious British feel was imperative as was a vibe of laid-back, fun and alternative-ness.

“We were both inspired by the 70s look and feel and wanted to incorporate the 2011 fashion trend of antique lace and crochet,” photographer Catherine told me. “We also wanted the styling to be very simple, no jewelery only flowers as the accessories. Having fresh flowers in the hair, daisy chains and also keeping the models bare foot for most of the garden shoot.”

“We later transferred the models to a beautiful yellow rapeseed oil field and had some odd props, a lampshade, birdcage filled with gypsophila, suitcase, mirror and just had some fun with the colours, location and the collection of props (pretty much all from mine and my sister’s homes.) We wanted to show that simple styling can be just as beautiful if not more so, also great for smaller budgets.”

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A Modern Retro, Bowling Alley Shoot

Today’s shoot is one that celebrates all thing British-ness but without a blatant ‘jumping on the royal wedding bandwagon.’ Thank goodness for these guys and their original take on what it means to be British.

“With the royal wedding drawing so much attention around the world to good Ol’ Blighty, I wanted to showcase a quirkier side of England!” stylist and wedding planner Mary of Forever & Ever Events told me.  “So I teamed up photographer, Aneta Mak, who specializes in shooting on film, designer Delphine Manivet, milliner Edwina Ibbotson and Bloomsbury Lanes Bowing Alley for an inspirational shoot that celebrated what I consider truly British: high-end meets retro.”

The team chose the Bloomsbury area of London, a location already famed for the Bloomsbury Group (literary giants Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Ruskin, to name but a few) because they wanted to show the area in a the modern light that it has become in the last several years – young and hip, with many hidden gardens and squares and of course the vintage bowling lanes. They wanted to ‘marry’ the the literary with the modern and the retro, so asked Abbey at House of Sugalily to create “book” invitations that were a nod to the literary heritage with iconic British symbols and retro bowling references.  The colours of the bowling alley even reflected the colors of the Union Jack, which they also echoed in the place cards designed by modern calligrapher Dear Darling Calligraphy.

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Charlotte & Chris’ Bush Hall, Gig Wedding

Charlotte is the genius and super lovely lady behind Restoration Cake – my favourite cake maker – FACT. She is also someone I consider to be a friend so when she told me she was marrying Chris in March I was so excited. Unfortunately I was unable to attend as it fell on the same day as Emma Case’s wedding, but luckily for me (and you!) Charlotte was still really excited to let me share her day with on my blog…and before you ask, yes she did make her own cake!

The couple threw themselves wholeheartedly into planning their big day and groom Chris was particularly enthusiastic. Charlotte made me laugh when she would tell me that throughout their planning Chris would constantly email her links to things he liked on Rock n Roll Bride!

Charlotte & Chris were never going to have a traditional wedding. Both really into music, a gig wedding at the iconic Bush Hall in London was the perfect idea for them! “We had known for ages that we wanted to get married but could never quite figure out how to do it in a way that was right for us,” Charlotte told me.”We knew that we did not want the whole traditional nine yards but could not reconcile the idea of a Vegas elopement leaving behind all of our family and friends. In the Summer of 2010, we went to a gig at Bush Hall and fell in love with the venue. We decided that our Wedding would be a gig, with our friends’ bands playing, and a massive party. We booked the venue before we told anyone that we had decided to get married!”

“We met at a gig and regularly go to gigs. We seek out new bands and listen to all kinds of music from past and present. Music had to be a central part of our day. We decided that a DJ would not allow us the control that we wanted over the music so we spent the 5 months leading up to the Wedding working on a killer playlist. The playlist was even divided into sections to fit around our 4 performers of the evening. We even arranged a separate playlist to be played 15mins before the venue was due to close, so that we could ensure that Lovecats by The Cure and God Gave Rock n Roll To You by KISS were our final songs of the night.”

They had a number of performers at their monster wedding gig including electric cellist Jo Quail, singer Evi Vine, burlesque dancer Vicky Butterfly and The Mark Gamble Band (Charlotte’s Dad’s band!) “People were probably a bit sceptical about the Father of the bride’s band performing but he really was outstanding,” the bride continued. “The setlist was classic rock and blues. Loads of guests danced. Dad was even joined on stage by his sister, my auntie Angela, who he used to be in a band with when they were teenagers! As a part of Dad’s set, he played my favourite song from my childhood… Postman Pat, with the latter verses rewritten especially along the lines of ‘Mr. White has a brand new wife’. He also read out messages from all of our favourite rock stars, with their best wishes and apologies for not being there.”

“Then I got up on stage with Dad and we sang Crossroads together. It meant the world to me to perform with my Dad. I also play bass guitar so I played the next two tracks – I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders, which perfectly expresses everything that I would have said in my bride’s speech were I more eloquent, and Bad Romance by Lady Gaga, which I performed in a raw rock style.”

“I don’t get stage fright but I found it much easier to relax if I just focused on Chris. After all, I was singing to him and seeing him smiling at me let me know that the show was going OK! Lots of my friends have not known me as a musician – as I left my last band around 5 years ago – so lots of people were quite shocked. Chris knew that I was going to do the Gaga track but the other two songs were a surprise for him too.”

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A Black & White Checked Couture Gown

There were two things that I loved as soon as I saw this shoot – the model’s gorgeous red hair and that dress! Very Vivienne Westwood inspired on both counts…and we all know how much I adore a bit of Vivienne.

The shoot was set up to promote dress designer Nicki Hill‘s new range of bridal gowns. Based in Southampton UK, Nicki is famed her stunning couture gowns. Dresses like this one are made to order and created in her own studio.

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A Super Cool Britanna Shoot

So the big day is tomorrow. As I’ve said previously, I’m not doing a huge homage to the royal wedding on the blog (there’s enough royal wedding fever elsewhere thank you very much!) however this shoot, inspired by the event, really caught my eye this week. I love it for it’s slight sex pistols/1970’s punk edge. Cool Britannia indeed!

The shoot took place in Regent’s Park, London last week. Bride Noelle hand made her vintage-inspired floaty dress. “We decided to do this cherish the dress shoot with a Great British theme, just in time to celebrate the royal wedding,” photographer Rebecca told me. “We also tied in a fairytale them as the royal wedding is set to be a true British fairytale. Noelle also brought along her pet Pug percy for the shoot, who was just adorable and loved rolling around on the British flag.”

No matter what your thoughts on the wedding tomorrow, I hope you’ll enjoy this stylish shoot…

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Ilka & Mars’ Early 20th Century-Inspired Wedding

“Circa 1991, and like most 9 year old girls at the time, my dream wedding typically consisted of getting married in a castle, having a horse-drawn carriage at midnight and saying ‘I Do’ to Jason Priestly. So fast-forward 20 years…our castle was in busy Tooting Broadway, wedged in between a Mecca Bingo Hall and a McDonalds, with a KFC conveniently across the road. Our horse-drawn carriage was a local taxi, well beyond midnight. And Jason Priestly? He got bumped for my love and best friend, Mars. It was completely perfect for us. Sad to say, Brandon had been banished to the Peach Pit forever.”

I love Ilka & Mars already. How about you?

Mar’s proposed at the airport, just before Ilka was about to fly home to Australia, with her Grandmother’s engagement ring. She explained, “So after a couple of years of living together and rarely talking ‘seriously’ about getting married, I was waiting in the busy security line at Heathrow, about to spend 3 weeks back home in Australia for a Christmas apart, when Mars popped the question. After unknowingly foiling an attempted romantic proposal during a holiday in New York a few months earlier, it was a perfect chance to catch me unawares while I was unsuccessfully trying to stuff the contents of my entire handbag into a tiny clear zip-lock bag, and rush off to board the plane. It was simple and just perfect. After a quick, teary goodbye and my grandmother’s beautiful engagement ring now firmly on my finger, I was herded through security and onto the plane. Needless to say, the next 24hours consisted of me taking full advantage of the onboard trolley service, trying to come to terms with what had just happened!”

When she got home, Ilka told her Mum the story and they quickly started brainstorming wedding ideas. She had always loved vintage things and so mentioned to her Mum that this was the style wedding she would want. “I’m the only daughter out of four kids, and Mum and I have always shared an obsession with antiques and vintage clothing, so it was no surprise to her when I said I’d love a vintage dress,” the bride continued. “It was to my surprise however when she then opened up the wardrobe, gently unwrapped a parcel and produced the most incredible antique lace wedding veil. She simply said ‘I have this if you’d like to wear it?’ It was originally worn by my great-grandmother in 1928, and again by my grandma in the late 40s. I had no idea that mum had it in her possession. Once I’d picked my jaw up off the ground, I asked why she’d never mentioned it before. ‘I didn’t know what kind of wedding you wanted to have’, meaning, I shouldn’t feel obliged to wear it if I wanted something a little less traditional. So, now at least I had a starting point. The veil. It was coming back to England with me.”

After many fruitless attempts to find her perfect dress to go with her perfect veil, Ilka’s friend Kelli offered to make her one, “My brave friend Kelli was my partner in crime on the dress hunt. With grand plans to find an incredible vintage dress, we visited endless vintage textiles and clothing fairs over the next couple of months. But with each unsuccessful mission we became more and more disheartened. We just couldn’t find the right dress. I relented and went to a ‘proper’ wedding dress boutique, and although the dresses were no doubt very beautiful, I knew deep down that buying one off the rack wouldn’t be for me. Fortunately for me, Kelli is a fashion designer by trade and sensing my growing depression, kindly offered to design me a dress instead. God bless her!”

“So, we embarked upon a series of evenings with lots of red wine, sketching dress ideas. We took inspiration from anything from Katherine Hepburn movies to Alexander McQueen, endlessly repeated the mantra that would later haunt us as we rushed to get it finished 3 days before the wedding –  ‘don’t worry, it’s just a dress’. We laugh about it now, and refer to it as ‘it’s just a #!@^ing dress’!, and I know I will never be able to repay all the sleepless nights she had over it. We found some beautiful silk crepe in McCulloch & Wallis, a fabric shop in central London that has been operating from the same premises since 1902. The fabric had apparently been sitting untouched in the shop for 20 years, so it was a lucky find! I bought some 1920’s rhinestone buttons on Etsy that we used at the back of the dress. My belt buckle was an amazing 200 year old Georgian paste buckle found at Camden Passage Antiques Market, worn on a black velvet belt.”

The couple were keen to make sure that their wedding was a laid back, intimate and fun affair for their closest friends and family. They put a lot of work into the details of their day, but oh doesn’t it show?! “Neither of us was completely comfortable with being the centre of attention, so the idea of a big wedding was just not going to be for us. Style wise ‘The Blessed Union’ (as it was henceforth known) was influenced by eras that we already loved, 30s and 40s fashion, Victorian ephemera and industrial design. But overall we went with the philosophy – if it feels right go with it. We just made it up as we went along. We also attempted to organise everything by ourselves, keeping the majority of the wedding details a surprise for our family and friends to enjoy. I didn’t have any bridesmaids, as not only were a lot of my friends over the other side of the world and logistically it would be a nightmare to organise, but I was also really conscious that people were already sacrificing so much to come, and the last thing I wanted to do was burden anyone with a list of chores to do or fuss over me. Their jobs would be to have a good time.”

“And finally….Advice for people getting married? Try to cut yourself some slack. If it is your first time getting married, like it was for us, you’re not meant to be an expert at how the whole wedding thing works, no matter what you’re lead to believe in magazines and on TV! So be kind to yourself. Improvising is perfect; you’ll concentrate on the things that are ultimately important to you, and the whole shebang will be really personal. We generally made things up as we went along and it worked for us!”

“And if like us, if you are attempting at putting the whole thing together by yourselves, then I salute you. It’s bloody hard work, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way – at the end of the evening you can both sit back and share a proud moment that it all came together (and breathe a massive sigh of relief!)”

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